Style Other / Ref.12965
CHOCQUEEL HOUSE, Aubusson tapestry «The fortune teller» or «the bohemian» from a model by J.B. Leprince, Late 1860s
Width: 131'' ⅞ 335cm
Height: 123'' ⅝ 314cm
This impressive tapestry was made by the Chocqueel House, at the end of the 1860s, inspired by an 18th century model made at the Beauvais Manufacture in 1782 and decorated by the painter Jean-Baptiste Leprince.
At the time of its creation in 1831, the Chocqueel House was named after the name of three collaborators: Requillard, Roussel and Chocqueel. The tapestry workshops were located in Tourcoing and Aubusson, while the shops were located in Lille, 13 rue de la Grande-Chaussée and in Paris 18 et 20 rue Vivienne, in the same street where the house’s main competitors settled down two years later: The Braquenié.
The house participates to the most important exhibitions that punctuate the second part of the 19th century and wins at the Great Exhibition of 1851, the first class medal. In 1855, a medal of honor was awarded at the exhibition of Paris, and, in 1867, the house was placed out of competition. It also became a patented supplier to the Emperor and the Empress, as well as to the Queen of England in 1860. Furthermore, its director Winoc Chocqueel (1812 – 1871) was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1862 and published the following year an “Essay on the history and current situation of the tapestry and carpet industry”.
Its work of great quality “that could rival those of Aubusson, Beauvais and Gobelins” (La Vie Parisienne, Janvier 1873) were praised and elevated to the rank of a prince by the Gazette des Beaux-Arts published in 1870 : “…visit the stores on Vivienne Street 18 and 20 for a while and you will come back with stars in the eyes like me. M. Chocqueel had doors and hangings made in his factories at Tourcoing for the Duke of Westminster; nothing similar had been seen so far and who does not know that everything that bears the stamp of the House of Chocqueel enters the sovereign and princely palaces?".
The scene illustrated by our tapestry, is occurring in a luxurious forest, where a shelter was made with wood and fabric. In front of that tent, covering a cariola, a middle aged woman, wearing a rich Russian costume and sitting down the floor, is reading the hand lines of a young woman, accompanied by a man, both of them standing up in front of her. On the left, a little baby, covering by some fabrics, is laid down between hens and sheep and by some objects disposed here ; as an amphora, a wicker basket, or a cabbage. On the right part of the tapestry, where the entrance of the tent appears, others sheep are laying down and two others men are occupied around the horses.
Our tapestry were inspired by an identical tapestry, but reversed, made in the 18th century, at the Beauvais National manufactory of tapestry. Two exemplars can be find, one in the Louvre Museam and the other in The Jacquemart André Muséun.
The original tapestry, was part of a series, untitled : Les Jeux Russiens », composed by six tapestries : The meal, The dance, The bird’s hunt, The milkmaid, the guitar player and The bohemian, whose decors has been ordered to the painter Jean Baptiste Leprince, who realized the cartons.
François Boucher’s student, the artist was chosen thanks to his title as official painter of the Imperial Court of Russia, where he lived between 1757 and 1762. When he returns to France, he introduced the Russeries vogue, following the Chinoiseries, with the exhibition, in the Salon of 1765, of fifteen canvases representing Russian subjects.
The study for the tapestry cartoon, today kept at the Picardie museum, in Beauvais, represents only, in a tight plan, the three main protagonists. We also note the richness of their clothes, highlighted by the colors choices and the flashes of light highlighting the preciousness of the materials. This way of dressing the bohemian may seem dissonant, but it is a more aesthetic choice on the part of the painter than ethnographic, although in painting the representation of the bohemian has the custom of representing the triviality of the world.
Comparing to the tapestry realized in the 18th century, we notice some differences between this tapestry and the model conserved at the Louvre Museum, whose closest plan makes some details disappear. Our tapestry thus seems to be have been made according to the model conserved at Jacquemart André’s museum, exactly the same in every point, except its reading direction.
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